Old tools fascinate me. Looking at the areas worn bare from use, I try to imagine who used it, what he was making. Sometimes I’m more curious to know what it was used for. Tool magazines frequently post pictures, asking, does anyone know what this is?
Words are tools. As they are used less, they get left in the toolbox. In time, people may not understand how they were used. Like the word, redemption. In biblical times, it was not uncommon for someone to sell himself into slavery, to cover a debt. Someone else, usually a close family member, could pay the slave’s owner a fee to purchase his (or her) freedom. He purchased redemption. The former slave was now free.
Imagine how that felt, waking, the next morning to suddenly remember that everything that happens next is now a choice, not a command. More profound for someone born into slavery, who had never known freedom. Such a person might not have realized he had been in bondage, nor the full implications of now being free.
When Jesus taught about how He could redeem us, some asked Him:
…“We … have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – (John 8:33 excerpt-36)
Perhaps the word, redemption, has suffered disuse because most of us, like Jesus’ listeners, don’t truly understand our condition of slavery. But even those who were born into slavery can be redeemed, set free, and given a full and permanent place in God’s family. If The Son sets us free, which He freely does for all who will trust Him, we have redemption, we are free indeed.
Freed slaves eventually get it; they notice. They rub their formerly bound wrists, look around in astonishment and gulp in fresh draughts of freedom. Life is more than better, it begins! Which is why Paul was so excited to say:
” … For He (God, through Jesus) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.“
– (Colossians 1:13-14)
Sometimes, when I learn how an old tool was used, I discover it works better than anything more recently made. The word, redemption, is one of those.